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Telling the Tune of Russell Hall

Posted 03/18/2021


Catherine Christian, a senior at UNI, has a music appreciation; she knew she wanted to be in the Broadway pit orchestra from a young age. She followed her heart to UNI and is on track to receive her Music General Studies degree in May of 2021. Christian is still working on her after-college plans as COVID-19 has caused Broadway to shutdown until June. In the meantime, Christian has been working tirelessly on her studies, extracurricular activities, and creating displays for the Fine & Performing Arts Collection at Rod Library.


Turning passion into a presentation

Being a very passionate student, Christian desired to share her love for music with UNI students more broadly. She sought the opportunity to do with her position in the library. She approached Julie Ann Beddow, her supervisor at the library, to start creating a display where she could use Rod Library as a link to connect with the rest of UNI! This project soon grew in-depth and became a collaboration with Special Collections and University Archives.


As this turned out to be a more prominent display, Christian was introduced to a new challenge of planning and ensuring all the information and images on display were informational and captivating. When interviewed, she spoke about how this process expanded her experience and learning as she dug deeper into the Russell Hall history. Special Collections and University Archives took a significant role in helping Christian locate historical information, which helped her shape this impressive display! 


Uncovering the History

Christian gained access to information ranging from general information pamphlets to design layout and blueprints of Russell Hall. As she worked on this display and gained insight into Russell Hall's backstory, the desire to share that impact with others only grew. Exploring the content from Special Collections and University Archives kept enlightening her as more of the story was unfolding.


With the new insight, Christian was able to tell the story about how Russell Hall came to be. Initially, the music department's destiny was for another building on campus, but the original location was not suitable for acoustics after further investigation. In the short of it, to avoid this placement, Myron Russell gathered faculty and staff and petition in favor of the music students having a place more ideal for creating music. The vote turned seven to two in his favor, and the building was then further known as Russell Hall. 


As always, there is more to the story and other captivating stories about Russell Hall and UNI's Campus that are just waiting for discovery!


Take a trip to the third floor at Rod Library to see this incredible display and find a wealth of history in the Special Collections and University Archives!

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